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Shirley Wind Project noise testing urged

County Board of Health wants to know its effects

Nov. 14, 2012
 
Shirley Wind Project turbines dominate the southeastern Brown County landscape as the sun sets in February 2011. This view is looking west from Highview Road just south of Wisconsin 96.
Shirley Wind Project turbines dominate the southeastern Brown County landscape as the sun sets in February 2011. This view is looking west from Highview Road just south of Wisconsin 96. / File/Press-Gazette

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The Brown County Board of Health will recommend the state Public Service Commission do low-frequency noise testing on behalf of people in the Shirley Wind Project area who are experiencing adverse health effects.

Audrey Murphy, chairwoman of the Brown County Board of Health, said 50 affidavits were filed by individuals living near the Shirley Wind Project who wanted testing to help determine the cause of their symptoms.

“I believe these issues are real and there are people suffering,” Murphy said. “The symptoms seem to be common among everybody.”

Glenmore families living in or who previously lived in proximity of the Shirley Wind Project complained of ear infections, heart palpitations, muscle and joint pain, malaise and several other symptoms.

The board is writing a letter to state officials in support of the testing. They want to discover if low-frequency noise, generated by wind turbines, is the cause of health problems for individuals living near the Shirley Wind project.

“We’re hoping the (Public Service Commission) will become involved and do testing on low frequency noise,” Murphy said. “That issue needs to be addressed. It might be the source of the problems people are experiencing.”

The state has not responded to a request from the board, sent in January, asking for emergency state aid for the affected individuals, Murphy said, and due to Act 40, approved in 2009, the board’s “hands are tied” when it comes to commissioning testing. Under the law, no political subdivision is able to place any restrictions on the installation or use of wind energy systems more restrictive than the Public Service Commission.

“The state fell flat on its face and did not protect residents from the health and safety concerns of turbines,” said Steve Deslauriers, of the town of Holland. He also is a member of the Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy, a volunteer group fighting the proposed widespread installation of turbines in the towns of Morrison, Wrightstown, Glenmore and Holland.

He praised the board, saying they are very supportive of efforts to protect citizens affected by the turbines.

Deslauriers and his group also want to stop more wind turbines from being installed in residential areas in Brown County. The turbines were erected in 2010, and the Public Service Commission’s Wind Siting Council in 2010 released rules for wind turbines and said there was insufficient proof of negative health effects from wind turbines to support stricter rules.

Wind turbines are allowed within 1,250 feet of residences in Wisconsin.

Shirley Wind's operators told the Press-Gazette in January their facility has been built and operated safely.

Wind farms have been a topic of debate in Wisconsin in the past several years. Advocates say wind pollutes less than coal, is less expensive and potentially less dangerous than nuclear energy.

Correction

Wind turbines are allowed within 1,250 feet of residences in Wisconsin. A story in the print edition of the Press-Gazette and early online versions reported an incorrect distance.

mamante@greenbay.gannett.com, subscribe to her updates on Facebook at facebook.com/maria.amante or follow her on Twitter @1MAMANTE.

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